Sir Keir Starmer must suspend Salma Yaqoob from the Labour Party in anticipation of her joint event with the expelled Labour activist Tony Greenstein, in line with his election pledge.
On Tuesday 12th May, Birmingham Stop the War intends to host a public event featuring Ms Yaqoob and Mr Greenstein, along with the author Paul Keleman.
Sir Keir made a pledge during his leadership election campaign that he would suspend Labour MPs and members who gave a platform to former members expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents.
Mr Greenstein was expelled from the Labour Party on three charges relating to comments he made on social media and his blog. The first charge related to “repeatedly using ‘zio’ as a term of derision, stating ‘Gay zionists make me want to puke’ and referring to others as ‘Zionist scum’”; the second charge related to abuse, including calling the Jewish then-Labour MP Dame Louise Ellman a “supporter of child abuse”; and the third charge related to an e-mail sent by Mr Greenstein to the General Secretary of the Labour Party in which he appeared to make a distasteful joke about the Nazis’ “final solution”, their plan to annihilate European Jewry.
Ms Yaqoob, the former Respect Party leader who stood to become Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Metro Mayor, is a recent member of the Labour Party, and she has her own deeply troubling record in relation to the Jewish community.
In a 2013 tweet (that she has since deleted), Ms Yaqoob stated: “Iceland arrests 10 Rothschild bankers…wow”, and linked to an article making this false claim and featuring a prominent image of the banker and philanthropist Lord Jacob Rothschild. The article linked in turn to a longer piece on the “Political Vel Craft” website, which is known for disseminating extreme conspiracy theories.
She has repeatedly tweeted about “Zionists”, including accusing Zionists of “heartlessness”; describing allegations of antisemitism against Ken Livingstone as “Zionist smears”; claiming that Zionists are “aligned…with [the] right promoting Imperial wars”; abusing others as “Zionist trolls”, and stating that “Zionists have abused the memory of the Holocaust to bolster support for today’s Israeli state and its racist and murderous policies.”
Last year, Ms Yaqoob posted a video on Facebook (which has now been removed but remains available on Youtube) of a speech she made to a rally, in which she described Israelis as “European colonisers” who had somehow contrived to be involved in the Eurovision Song Contest, but were only “pretending to be European” in order to gain solidarity from “white” European nations against “brown ‘other’ Muslim Arab dehumanised species”. She ended her diatribe against the Jewish State by stating: “…no matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, a pig is still a pig.”
Non-European nations have regularly been involved in the contest since its inception, and even Australia has recently joined, while Israel’s hosting of the competition, far from being part of a “plot”, as Ms Yaqoob implied, was a result of Israel’s contestant having received the most votes the previous year.
Ms Yaqoob has also praised Jewish Voice for Labour, an antisemitism-denial group and sham Jewish representative organisation, and has described efforts to address Labour’s antisemitism crisis (which by inference includes the Party’s adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism) as “a vicious campaign for censorship,” while insisting that she does not “stand for even a drop of antisemitism”.
Ms Yaqoob’s record of controversial pronouncements and activity, including with regard to Middle Eastern politics, is longer still. She has also been accused of homophobia and has notably been described as “unfit for office” by Labour MP Naz Shah because of the conduct of her campaign to unseat the Bradford West MP in 2017. There are also questions surrounding how Ms Yaqoob has been able to run as a candidate despite only having recently joined the Labour Party — and having run a vicious campaign against a sitting Labour MP only two years ago which reportedly left Ms Shah feeling suicidal.
Jeremy Corbyn has lionised Ms Yaqoob, describing her as a “hero” and a “fantastic activist”.
The publicity for this Stop the War event comes just a day after the Labour Party, in breach of Sir Keir’s pledge, decided not to take action against Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, two MPs who shared a platform with Mr Greenstein and other expelled and controversial Labour activists in a Zoom event earlier this week. Ms Yaqoob was also on that Zoom conference call.
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Sir Keir Starmer’s first test was to suspend Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy for sharing a platform with Labour members expelled over antisemitism allegations, and he has failed. His second test is to suspend Salma Yaqoob, who was not only in that first event as well, but is now scheduled to share another platform with one of the expelled activists, Tony Greenstein, yet again. Sir Keir made it an election pledge to suspend those who share platforms with expelled members and to take ‘personal responsibility’ for dealing with Labour’s institutional antisemitism crisis. Far from ‘tearing the poison of antisemitism out by its roots’ as he promised, it seems that he is content to let this poisonous weed grow and grow.”
On 28th May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.